How can parents help?

On January 14, 2010, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince walked home from school after being bullied in the hallways of “mean girls” at a Massachusetts high school. Her bullies were angry that she had begun dating one of their boyfriends. This account comes from the District Attorney that prosecuted the bullies.

“The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school,” District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said. “The bullying, for her, became intolerable.” Students said Phoebe was called “Irish slut” and “whore” on Twitter, Craigslist, Facebook and Formspring.

What can parents do to protect children from the torment and anguish Phoebe experienced?

Part of the reason bullying exists is because we unintentionally allow it to. When we see, hear about, or even experience bullying and fail to speak up, we indirectly contribute to its existence in our society. Many kids who are bullied will not tell anyone and attempt to ignore the perpetrators.  Often times, victims of bullying are embarrassed, ashamed and do not understand or recognize that they are being bullied.  Victims also feel that asking for help will not help or have tried to get help in the past and were teased for telling.

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The Many Faces of Bullying

Bullying can come in many forms. Bullying is stereotypically seen as being physical. A child that comes home with bruises may be taken more seriously than the kid that comes home crying because of name-calling or rumors being spread.  When it comes to girls, this can often be the case. Research on bullying has found girls to be less likely to use their fists and more likely to use their words or indirect aggression. Sadly, words can often go deeper than bruises.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take words. Sometimes it’s a dirty look, or being the only one not invited to the party, or thinking someone is your friend until you hear the things they’ve said behind your back.

It’s Your Social Responsibility

The bottom line is: this stuff doesn’t have to happen if WE don’t let it.  I emphasize the word “we” because we can’t expect children and teens to face bullying alone.  Children are just not completely equipped to deal with bullying.  When you raise your child in a loving, caring home, there is no way they are going to know how to deal with the harsh reality of bullying. When a child is left to deal with bullies on their own we all know how disastrous the consequences may be. We’ve all seen the news.

They Don’t Give Degrees in Popularity

Now here’s the “awesome” thing about bullying. As awful as it is, it has created some of the most beautiful, resilient, talented, and successful people I have ever met. Bullying can awaken our innate desire to survive.  We focus all our time and energy on succeeding during/after high school so we can escape our bullies. It’s as if success is a new survival tactic. The hope that “someday life will get better” is what I believe can drive the victims of bullying to go far and accomplish amazing feats. That’s why after 4 years of college the “mathletes” are the ones holding degrees and job offers; and the jocks? Unfortunately for them, colleges don’t offer degrees in popularity.

If you or someone you know are struggling with bullying, please contact a family coach, counselor or therapist who specializes in bullying that may assist you during this complicated time.  More tips on how to fly under the Bullying Radar by Bullying Expert Jim West, MA, LMHC, NCC


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AUTHOR: Jada Jackson, MS, LMHC – Communicator, Coach & Licensed Mental Health Counselor working with couples, teens, young adults and women empowerment issues in Orlando and East Orlando Florida!  Jada Jackson can be reached at (407) 248-0030.